Shawnee Co. Commissioners reject Governor’s mask order, develop less severe standards
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shawnee County Commissioners voted Thursday to reject Governor Laura Kelly’s order on masks.
All three commissioners said they were not pleased with the timing of the governor’s actions and believe a one-size fits all approach will not work.
”I think the timing of this is horrendous, right before Independence Day,” said Commissioner Bill Riphahn.
Commissioner Kevin Cook agreed saying, “I believe in local control. Your local officials have a better view of what’s going on in your community than somebody who is removed.”
Commissioner Aaron Mays echoed them both saying, “That was going to be my recommendation that we disregard the governor’s order and make our own policies.”
After making the decision to reject Gov. Kelly’s executive order on masks, commissioners discussed how to develop their own, less strict standards for Shawnee County.
Cook said, “At its heart, the mask order is one piece of how we can potentially protect the citizens of Shawnee County.”
“If we have to wear masks in certain circumstances then I feel like that’s maybe something we should consider, but it can’t be an all or none approach,” Mays said.
While he agreed it can’t be a one-size fits all approach -- County Health Officer, Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, encouraged commissioners to consider a mask rule.
“I can guarantee you, if you pass a mandate there will be more people that use the mask because people pay attention to the law,” he said.
Cook agreed saying, “People want to do the right thing and a lot of times there are retailers relying on us to draft the rules.”
Dr. Pezzino offered guidance based on the current spread of COVID-19 in the county.
“My recommendation is to require the use of masks in all indoor public places where social distancing cannot be assured,” he said.
Commissioners voted to maintain Shawnee County’s current mask restrictions and will return next week to make any changes.
Current orders state retail workers do not have to wear masks while working, but businesses with direct contact to customers, like restaurants and barbershops, do have to wear masks if unable to stay 6 ft. away from consumers.
The County Commission plans to come up with a new plan during a work session Monday at 8 a.m. They’ve also asked the health department for their input.
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